(HealthDay News) — Central obesity is associated with increased risk of mortality even in normal-weight individuals, according to a study published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Mark Hamer, PhD, from Loughborough University in the United Kingdom, and colleagues recruited participants from 10 survey years of the Health Survey for England and the Scottish Health Survey. Body mass index (BMI) was categorized as normal weight, overweight, or obese, and waist-to-hip ratio was determined. Data were included for 42,702 participants.

The researchers found that the prevalence of overweight and obesity was 43.7% and 25%, respectively; central obesity had a prevalence of 53.4%. Across BMI categories, the prevalence of central obesity was 28.7%, 60.2%, and 72.7%, respectively, in normal-weight, overweight, and obese participants. During 383,542 person-years of follow-up, 5,355 participants died. Only normal-weight and obese participants with central obesity were at increased risk for mortality compared with normal-weight participants without central obesity. Overweight and obese participants with central obesity were at increased risk of mortality compared with their counterparts without central obesity (hazard ratios, 1.11 and 1.27, respectively). All participants with central obesity had increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease compared with normal-weight participants without obesity.

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“We aimed to replicate findings that suggested that centrally obese participants with a normal BMI had the worst long-term survival,” the authors write. “Our results are partly consistent with these data when examining all-cause mortality.”

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  1. Hamer M, O’Donovan G, Stensel D, Stamatakis E. Normal-Weight Central Obesity and Risk for Mortality. Ann Intern Med. 25 April 2017. doi: 10.7326/L17-0022